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Covid-19 cases in Maha increase by 12 in a day, count 64

Mumbai, Mar 21 : The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Maharashtra jumped to 64 on Saturday with 12 more persons testing positive for the infection, Health Minister Rajesh Tope said.

Out of these 12 new patients, eight were from Mumbai, two from Pune and one each from Kalyan (a town near Mumbai) and Yavatmal, he said.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has issued directions that "community spread" of the virus be checked, the minister informed.

Six out of eight new patients from Mumbai had overseas travel history, one is airport staff while another had traveled to Gujarat, Tope said.

The patient from Yavatmal, who is admitted in a Mumbai hospital, had recently traveled to Congo in Africa.

The patient in Kalyan is the brother of a woman from neighbouring Ulhasnagar who tested positive for the virus infection two days ago. Both had returned from Dubai.

In Pune, a 25-year-old man who had traveled to Ireland and England tested positive. The other person in Pune who tested positive on Saturday was a 41-year-old woman who has no overseas travel history, the minister said.

As per the latest figures, he said, Pimpri Chinchwad near Pune has 12 coronavirus patients, while in Pune city there are 11 patients.

In Mumbai, the number of patients is now 19, highest in the state.

Nagpur, Yavatmal and Kalyan have four Covid-19 patients each.

Navi Mumbai has reported three cases, Ahmednagar two, and Panvel, Thane, Ulhasnagar, Aurangabad and Ratnagiri one each.

One coronavirus patient died in Mumbai last week.

Earlier in the day, when the number reached 63, the minister had said that rise from 52 to 63 within one one day was "big".

Among the patients detected in Maharashtra so far, over a dozen were ones who had come in contact with infected persons while others had foreign travel history, he said.

"The spread has been largely because of people who came from outside. I appeal to the people not to venture out.

They should exercise self-discipline by maintaining social distancing and hygiene," he said.

"If there is no reduction in crowding in public transport, a shut-down will have to be put in place. There is also the option of allowing people in public transport after checking their I-cards," he said.

The suburban trains in Mumbai will function for essential activities, he added.

"If people don't listen and continue to use public transport unnecessarily, we may have to think otherwise," he said, adding that we are in Phase-2 and heading towards Phase-3 of virus epidemic when number of patients spurts.

The World Health Organisation and the Centre's guidelines say that the virus survives longer in cooler places, he said.

"So, not just government offices, but people (at home and offices) should also follow the advice not to use air conditioning systems," he said.

He also said that the rush of migrant labourers at railway stations to head back to their home states is something to worry about.

"We have asked for increasing the number of outstation trains," he added.

As to crowding in local trains, he said, "We are in observation and appeal mode as of now. Even the Centre feels that the public transport in Mumbai needs to be shut down.

This was conveyed to (NCP chief Sharad) Pawar by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan," he said.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Pawar were in touch with the Centre, Tope added.

"Private labs should be given permission to conduct testing and even medical college hospitals can do it. This will reduce the waiting period for reports," he said.

"Planned surgeries in civic-run and medical college hospitals have been put off. As many as 7,000 quarantine beds have been added in the state," he said

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